2018 was full of great music across the spectrum of heavy music, from hardcore and death metal to hip-hop and industrial. We recently revealed our picks for the year's 30 best long-form offerings, and then asked you to shout out your favorites on social media. Records from grunge icons, metalcore heroes and death-defying doomsayers rose above the fray, among others. See the top-10 results below.
A next-level evolution rather than a noble return to form, Daughters' comeback LP is a nuanced, chaotic anxiety attack of an album that slingshotted them to the forefront of noise-rock this year. Dynamic, unpredictable and all-out entrancing, You Won't Get What You Want is necessary listening.
Alice in Chains could easily coast by on the fumes of their legendary career, but instead they packed their first record in five years with wall-to-wall radio hits and irresistible hooks, proving yet again they've outlived the storied days of the grunge revolution by writing transcendent, timeless rock songs.
With over 15 years in the game, Ice Nine Kills perfected the formula for metalcore that pops on The Silver Scream. Combining cheeky references to classic fright flicks — such as in a breakdown set to the music when Michael Myers chases Laurie Strode from the original Halloween on "Stabbing in the Dark" — with expert musicianship and singer Spencer Charnas' flair for dramatics, the band easily delivered its best album to date.
After throwing fans for a loop by verging too much on hard rock on 2015's Ire, Parkway Drive found their footing with the total storm that is Reverence. They carried over the focus on songwriting from the previous record, but melded it with the mosh-pit pummel fans fell in love with from the jump, allowing for a compellingly varied record that isn't afraid of going straight-up rock or completely heavy.
Behemoth's shtick has always been pretty predictable — Satan, evil, blasphemy and more Satan — but that's never kept them from producing high-quality teeth-gritting blackened death metal. Few expected the Polish outfit to match the craftsmanship of their immaculate 2014 full-length The Satanist, but thematic cohesion and an undulating flow of rich, ritualistic tunes puts I Loved You at Your Darkest in the top tiers of the band's oeuvre.
Maryland's long-running riff-rock act added another solid fuzzed-out blues-infused entry to their catalog with their 12th studio album. Frontman Neil Fallon leads the charge, spinning his earthy, surreal sermons over guitarist Tim Sult's hefty riffs and bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster's steady, hip-shaking grooves. Clutch tapped Nashville producer Vance Powell for Book of Bad Decisions, who expertly weaved the crew's booming vocals, gritty guitars, psych effects, honky-tonk piano, brass horns and more into one of the most sonically adventurous and hard-charging rock records of the year.
The duality of grief and recovery seems to permeate over every moment on YOB's latest record Our Raw Heart, morphing anxiety and darkness into a shroud of heavy riffs. For every chugging descent into pure hell, there's an equal reaction of thoughtfulness and hope. As the album continues to unfold, the beauty that was hiding in the heaviness slowly blooms into focus, Mike Scheidt's pervasive voice guiding every moment of the album along.
Between the wigs, the ever-morphing lineup, the anti-war covers albums and the apocalyptic sermonizing, A Perfect Circle have always been hard to pin down (and why would you even try, anyway?). Eat the Elephant — Maynard James Keenan and Billy Howerdel's long-awaited return LP — didn't make that task any easier, with its genre-defying sound, surreal holographic full-length visual accompaniment, and alternately cynical and optimistic outlook. But as challenging as it may be to digest at first, the record reveals its rewards on repeated listens by way of Howerdel's dense orchestration and Keenan's nuanced vocals and lyrical Easter eggs of humor and wisdom.
With an ever-growing rise to stardom that extends well beyond the underground, band leader Tobias Forge's Cardinal Copia and his Nameless Ghouls have run wild with the kitschy occult-pop dance themes on Prequelle while keeping the heavy riffs and sinister organ-synth runs fully intact. They might be divisive among serious 'heads, but decadent arrangements and an unflinching commitment to the dark lord make it hard to deny the power of Ghost.
How? How can a band nearly 50 years into their career still manage to put out an album that stands as one of their best in a discography of nearly 20 albums? It's because the group has never lost its grip on what makes a heavy-metal song impactful at its core, writing songs that have all the necessary pieces to succeed and work. Could Firepower be the final album we get from Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton? Only time will tell, but if it is, this monumental achievement will serve as a worthy send-off to a legendary career.